But It Was The Safest
While 2003 wasn't the
year everybody made money in aviation, it was certainly the safest
on record -- at least, as far as commercial aviation is concerned.
Twenty-five commercial aircraft were involved in fatal accidents
last year -- 26-percent lower than the previous record, set in
"It's amazing," said Harro Ranter, president of the Dutch
organization Aviation Safety Network, in an interview with Knight
Ridder Newspapers. "It was most definitely the safest year for
airline passengers in the world."
It's the continuation of a trend, says Ranter. Thirty years ago,
there were an average 61 fatal commercial aircraft incidents a
year. That dropped to 52 in the '80s and 48 in the 90s.
"A lot of the things
that we have done over the past decade are paying off," said Eric
Doten, director of the Center for Aerospace Safety/Security
Education at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach
(FL). He says better training and better technology have paved the
way toward safer flight.
The improved numbers are evident when you look at incidents that
occur on approach and landing. Just five years ago, the number of
fatal accidents attributed to aircraft that wend down on approach
was 16. Eight fatal accidents occurred upon landing. This year
there were eight fatal incidents on approach and -- get this --
none upon landing.
"We're having extraordinary success," Dorr said.
Twenty-three of the 25 fatal commercial flights were foreign --
only two were in the US. The first occurred January 8th, 2003
(above), when an Air Midwest flight crashed on take-off from
Charlotte Douglas International (NC). The second happened August
26th on Cape Cod.
And, yeah, we had to throw this last fact in: Compared to the
677 people who died in commercial aviation accidents worldwide last
year, consider this: an average of 820 people a week die in car
wrecks -- in the US alone.